in·​elas·​tic | \ ˌi-nə-ˈla-stik How to pronounce inelastic (audio) \

Definition of inelastic

: not elastic: such as
a : slow to react or respond to changing conditions

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Other Words from inelastic

inelasticity \ ˌi-​ni-​ˌla-​ˈsti-​s(ə-​)tē How to pronounce inelasticity (audio) , (ˌ)i-​ˌnē-​ˌla-​ \ noun

Examples of inelastic in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web The cuts, Barclays analyst Tim Long suggests, show that Apple’s offerings are no longer price inelastic. Aaron Pressman, Fortune, "A Shift in Strategy: Why Apple Is Offering Cheaper Streaming and iPhones," 29 Sep. 2019 The third method the researchers used, called inelastic neutron scattering spectroscopy, is much less common. Stephanie Demarco,, "Archaeologists have a new way to unlock the secrets of ancient burned bones," 28 June 2019 Such inelastic demand is the reason why private companies in all sectors want to achieve monopoly power or collude to raise price. Edward Lotterman, Twin Cities, "Real World Economics: Weather, bad crops and lasting effects," 9 June 2019 The company’s lock on a large market with inelastic demand was chum for hedge funds; a half-dozen, notably the New York investment management firm Paulson & Company, bought stakes in the company. Alexander Zaitchik, The New Republic, "How Big Pharma Was Captured by the One Percent," 28 June 2018 In a world of more-fluid fandom, Dolan couldn’t count on inelastic demand for his terrible product. Derek Thompson, The Atlantic, "In Praise of Fair-Weather Fandom," 16 Apr. 2018 But inelastic experiments performed at SLAC, many of which were led by Dr. Taylor, produced a lot of scattering of particles at very big angles, to a far greater degree than had been predicted. Dylan Loeb Mcclain, New York Times, "Richard E. Taylor, Nobel Winner Who Plumbed Matter, Is Dead at 88," 1 Mar. 2018 The supply of gullible and greedy people willing to chase it higher is accordingly higher and supply is, famously, inelastic (even before the hackers raid your wallet). Alan Murray, Fortune, "Count (and Distribute) Your Winnings — CEO Daily, Thursday 21st December," 21 Dec. 2017 Parents have no choice but to subscribe to the Disney service, and parents also know that there seems to be inelastic demand for Disney’s theme park tickets. Jon C. Ogg, USA TODAY, "2018 Outlook: How Exxon, GE, IBM, Merck and Disney could be the top Dow stocks," 11 Dec. 2017

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'inelastic.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of inelastic

1748, in the meaning defined above

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Time Traveler for inelastic

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The first known use of inelastic was in 1748

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Statistics for inelastic

Last Updated

19 Nov 2019

Cite this Entry

“Inelastic.” The Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., Accessed 10 December 2019.

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More Definitions for inelastic



Financial Definition of inelastic

What It Is

Something is inelastic when its price does not vary with the price of another item. It the business world, the term most often refers to how little the price of a good or service changes when the supply of that good or service changes.

The formula for elasticity is:

Elasticity = % Change in Quantity/% Change in Price

How It Works

Let's assume that when gas prices increase by 50%, gas purchases fall by just 2%. Using the formula above, we can calculate that gasoline is pretty inelastic:

Elasticity = -2%/50% = -0.04

Thus, we can say that for every percentage point that gas prices increase, gas purchases decrease by four one-hundredths of a percent. The price of gas is inelastic.

Why It Matters

If demand changes a lot when prices change a little, the demand for a product is elastic. This often is the case for products or services for which there are many alternatives or for which consumers are price sensitive.

The opposite is also true: When there is a small change in demand when prices change a lot, the product is inelastic. This is often the case for products and services that people consider necessities and will purchase at almost any price. The presence of few good substitutes and the presence of customer loyalty are also factors. At some point, however, there is a price at which demand for any good or service will fall to zero or near zero.

Source: Investing Answers


in·​elas·​tic | \ ˌin-ə-ˈlas-tik How to pronounce inelastic (audio) \

Kids Definition of inelastic

: not elastic


in·​elas·​tic | \ ˌin-i-ˈlas-tik How to pronounce inelastic (audio) \

Medical Definition of inelastic

: not elastic

Other Words from inelastic

inelasticity \ -​i-​ˌlas-​ˈtis-​ət-​ē, -​ˌē-​ˌlas-​, -​ˈtis-​tē How to pronounce inelasticity (audio) \ noun, plural inelasticities

More from Merriam-Webster on inelastic

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with inelastic

Comments on inelastic

What made you want to look up inelastic? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


to state or do over again or repeatedly

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